FRANKENSTEIN & BLADERUNNER ??“ DIFFERENT CONTEXTS
Mary Shelley??™s Gothic prose work Frankenstein (1818) and Ridley Scott??™s film noir Blade Runner (1982) are two texts that engage with modern values and beliefs and explore similar issues in vastly different contexts. The two renowned texts both have a significance. The two creators, Tyrell and Victor Frankenstein are both men of power and intelligence. Though they may think they are untouchable, they dont realise that the creations of the creature and the Replicants only produce destruction and failure. In these two texts the following issues are established, but within a different context: nature, ethics of technology, the power of the creator and what is means to be human.
Nature is an important aspect that is represented in both texts. The book cover is both Victor Frankenstein and Tyrell, the two creators linked to the tree which symbolises nature. In Frankenstein, sublime nature is consistently expressed, which establishes the traditions of Romanticism and Gothic literature. In Frankenstein, nature is viewed as ???.. nurturing the imagination???. Shelleys dramatic descriptions of the natural landscape convey a romantic appreciation of the attraction of nature, though the Gothic fusion brings terror. This can be seen when the monster murders William and the weather changes to a thundery night when Victor recognises the monster. Shelley also implies how nature can influence the mood of characters within the novel. This is expressed through the words of Victor to Walton; ???when happy, inanimate nature had the power of bestowing on me the most delightful sensations.??? By the end, as Victor chases the monster, nature, in the form of the Arctic desert, which functions simply as the symbolic backdrop for his primal struggle against the monster. In comparison to Frankenstein, Blade Runner presents a post-modern sublime, in which the natural world has become virtually obsolete. Scott emphasises the absence of nature as the result of a careless world while Shelley implies the importance and beauty of nature throughout the novel. The only forms of nature that Scott has purposely shown in the film, is the bonsai tree (which is seen at Tyrell??™s corporation and Deckard??™s house) and the artificial animals (such as the snake and birds). The reason Scott has established the lack of nature is to symbolise this dystopian world and the isolation that is established.
The ethics of technology and its consequences is shown on the book cover, through the representation of electricity and the destructive fire. This theme is shown by the determination of both Victor and Walton to explore the secrets of science. In both texts, the Replicants and the monster are characterisations of the effect of technology on society. In Frankenstein the ethics of technology can be seen through the creation of the monster transforming from an unbelievable discovery to a hatred creature. This is shown when Victor states that ???the beauty of my dream vanished, breathless horror and disgust filled my heart.??? This quote implies that Victor was blinded by his ambitions to build the monster and due to this failed to predict the consequences of using technology honestly. The danger brought about by technology is the message implied throughout the tale of Frankenstein.
The movie Blade Runner portrays the ethics of technology through the destruction of nature through the environment. This type of destruction is shown at the start using a long camera shot to establish a dark industrial city where fire explosions and lightning make it inescapable. The lack of care for the environment is shown by the high industrial buildings, polluted streets and continuous rain. This is the reckless use of technology and the world which has been created.
The power of the creator is shown on the cover through the word POWER linked from the creators Victor and Tyrell. In Frankenstein, Victor becomes so arrogant that he proclaims ???new species bless [him] as their creator.??? Victor believed that he was so powerful to create a creature through the use of electricity, but later reveals that this creature is a destruction to himself, killing his family to revenge Victor of his creation. Shelley indicates Victor??™s own suffering through the irony of his own advice ??“ ???I seek knowledge… I hope yours may not be a serpent as mine had been.??? This quote refers to the fall from Eden as Adam and Eve gained ???forbidden knowledge??™. This quote can also be seen as a metaphor for two separate things including the knowledge that Victor gains through his experiences and through the loss of innocence of the creature as it experiences the ???real world??™. The comparison to Victor in Blade Runner is the creator called Tyrell, who owns a massive industrial corporation where they create robots called Replicants. Though Tyrell may seem to be powerful, he also recognises the overuse of his power, being killed by Roy Batty for toying with creation. When Roy meets Tyrell he states ???… Its not an easy thing to meet you maker???, in other words Roy has been trying to meet Tyrell for some time now, but has been chased throughout the city in order to be killed. The power of creation is shown when Roy squeezes Tyrells eyes and then eventually kills him.
The last aspect is the important question what it means to be human, this phrase should be thought about when reviewing both texts. On the book cover this is shown by the creature and Replicant with the word Human underneath. In Frankenstein the creature just wants to blend in with the humans, but throughout the novel, other human beings treat the creature with disrespect. The monster is separated and wrecked from others in the course to find a companion, which compels the creature to madness. This is shown in the novel through the words of the creature; ???The human senses are insurmountable barriers to our union??¦ if I cannot inspire love I will cause fear???. This quote implies that the creature is trying to show kindness and compassion to humans but the horror induced by his physical appearance obstructs his humanity. While creating the creature, Victor becomes isolated from humanity, but the creature itself wants to become part of humanity. This is the relationship between master and monster.
In comparison to Frankenstein, humanity is portrayed in Blade Runner as something lost to humans but appreciated by Replicants;???..I think, therefore I am??? represents the way the Replicants see themselves compared to other humans. The same thought is portrayed in both texts, the creations want to be humans, yet humanity rejects them. In Blade Runner the Replicants are said to be ???..human without emotions??? this is suppose to be what makes the different to humans, yet at the start when Holden is interviewing Leon using the voight-kampff machine, this shows the eye (the way in which humans communicate and test emotions). The background effect, show the Leons heartbeat gradually getting faster, which is a sign of nervousness while Holden sits without emotion. This allusion makes us question what it mean to be human. It also happens with Rachael, her emotions are hidden to Deckard, but when he realises she is a Replicant her emotions show. This coincidence again begs the question what is humanity just as the creature questions his own humanity.
The two texts Frankenstein and Blade Runner are both seen as significant texts, even though they are produced during different contexts, they can both relate due to the same themes that are relevant to society. Nature is used more frequently in Frankenstein compared to Blade Runner due to the fact that Mary Shelley wrote the book around the period of Romanticism, where imagination was widely used. The two texts still explore the importance and influences of nature. The two texts explore and develop the sense of technology and its ethics, that it can effect humanity and the environment surrounding it. The power of the creators is established, and the effects it has on both Victor and Tyrell while making these creations. Finally ???What it means to be human??™ is the phase that can link the two texts together as both creatures want similar characteristics that humans possess.